27 July, 2014

Irish Blog Awards 2014 - Yay, I've been nominated!

On Friday night I returned home a little bleary eyed. Thursday was my final day in my current role and Friday saw me enjoying some refreshing gin and tonics in the hot and humid Manchester sun as a final farewell with some awesome work colleagues. When I arrived home sometime before midnight, I took it upon myself to scroll through Twitter. Low and behold I had received a few tweets with one in particular congratulating me on my Irish Blog Award nomination. I replied with a "Say whaaaat?".

I quickly jumped onto the Irish Blog Awards website and discovered I had been nominated in the category of 'Best Disapora Blog' (sponsored by The Irish Dairy Board) and had made the long list. I was delighted to say the least, squeaking with happiness and abruptly woke the boyfriend to tell him of the news. He wearily congratulated me and I knew too well, in his slumbered state he was not taking the news in at all. This is the first time I've ever received a nomination in the Irish Blog Awards and its amazing to know that someone (the delightful Claire Ann tweeted me to let me know) has taken the time to complete an application and suggest me as a worthy winner. To receive that digital nod for the first time made my evening and its more than nice to know that the words I share are not only read but appreciated too.

The Irish Blog Awards celebrates the best in Irish blogging and this year, will crown 32 worthy winners on October 4th in the Westgrove Hotel, Clane, Co Kildare. What excites me most about being selected for the long list is the opportunity I now have to discover, view and read other blogs I've never heard of or come across. The chance to discover people who are just as enthusiastic as me about blogging and who share the mutual passion to write and publish words and thoughts, often personal in nature online. I've a funny feeling my Twitter and Bloglovin feeds are about to rapidly increase!

What happens next?
Well, over the next few weeks a group of independent judges will view my blog and mark it according to a score sheet set by the Irish Blog Awards themselves. The best scoring blogs in each category will be compiled into a shorter list with the final list being released on August 22nd. If I'm lucky enough to make the next round, 70% of these marks will make up the final score with the remaining 30% of marks coming from a panel of judges made up of sponsors and renowned bloggers. 

It's all very exciting and fingers crossed for the next round! Go light a candle, tell your granny to say a prayer at mass and help a blogging sista out!

Image Source: Irish Blog Awards

23 July, 2014

Disaronno Terrace - Manchester - July 30th

Sunshine, sunshine and more sunshine. Manchester is basking in it lately and the good news is that it's set to continue for a couple of weeks. So much sunshine has seen Manchester dwellers escape their offices on the dot at 5pm and head to a refreshing outdoor space where they can enjoy a cold and refreshing beverage of choice. Warm evenings enjoyed in an outdoors space, I feel contribute to a more fulfilling day. Often, there is nothing worse than feeling that your entire day was taken up just working, eating and sleeping, so when you have the opportunity to enjoy those lovely warm hours from 5pm to 10pm during the summer, you have to grab it with both hands!

With the forecast promising, I was excited to hear that Manchester will have the opportunity to experience the Disaronno Terrace, a one off series of summer parties taking place at The Oast House in Spinning Fields on four separate evenings over a four week period. Having previously enjoyed a successful four week run in London, the Disaronno Terrace will play host to live performances from some of the newest and brightest acts. 

Launching the Manchester leg of the Disaronno Terrace on July 30th are Newcastle-upon-Tyne's Little Comets. Those attending are in for a treat. Their award winning combination of expert percussion and melody, alongside edgy laptop pop duo Thumpers are sure to make for an excellent evening and with a Disaronno sour cocktail in your hand, it sounds like a perfect Wednesday evening and mid-week treat to me.

While you're enjoying the tunes, the talents of local artists will be creating unique artworks throughout the evening live on La Tela Nera (The Blank Canvas) including Mogwai cover artist John Powell-Jones, illustrators Lewis Loughman, Paul Hallows and Dr.Me duo Ryan Edwards and Mark Edwards. Interestingly each piece created will be an original interpretation of the romantic history of Disaronno which incredibly, dates back to 1525. This of course appeals to the artist in me!

There will be complimentary master classes and tasting sessions run by mixologists, teaching lucky guests about the secrets behind the perfect Disaronno Sour. Expect sweet tastes complimented with punchy lemon to enjoy on a summery Wednesday evening. There will also be the opportunity to create your own twist on this classic from an assortment of fresh ingredients and garnishes available on the evening.

Outlined below is the line up for each of the four evenings and complimentary tickets, which include a tempting Disaronno Sour Cocktail can be found at Disaronno.beoriginale.com.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday 30th July
Music: Little Comets and Thumpers
Art: Lewis Loughman

Wednesday 6th August
Music: Saint Raymond and The Crookes
Art: John Powell - Jones

Wednesday 13th August
Music: Teleman and Cribs DJs
Art: Paul Hallows

Wednesday 20th August
Music: Summer Camp and Pins

22 July, 2014

The Grateful List #4

Its been a while since I've put together a grateful list so I guess now, mid summer, as the sun is shining is as good as time as any. The Grateful List is an opportunity to share all those moments, big and small which simply put, make me happy. It's easy to not appreciate the little moments and let a busy life get in a way!

- Having the opportunity to be woken up by a loud crackle of thunder and then staying up for an hour to watch an amazing lightning show at 4am.

- Experimenting with clean foods and making smoothie bowls. Simply delicious.

- Warm sunshine and lazy weekends with nothing much to do except sleep and relax.

- A nice, chilled glass of wine on a humid evening. Enjoyed on the balcony of our apartment.

- Arranging my first Manchester blogger meet up. A mix of excitement, anticipation and nervousness all rolled into one.

- Shopping in a whole foods / clean eating store. So many lovely foods to choose from, it's difficult not to buy everything!

- Organising our somewhat messy spare room into a guest / craft room. It's teeny tiny and proving a challenge.

- Having the opportunity to attend exciting Manchester events as the guest of a number of PR companies. It has been a great way of meeting fellow bloggers.

- Cooking clean meals not only for myself but for my hungry boyfriend too.

- Having the recent opportunity to run the Colour Run with Dannii from Hungry Healthy Happy.

- Excited to start a new role with a new company next week!

21 July, 2014

Eating Clean - Healthy, Wholesome Breakfasts

Breakfast can be a chore for many. I know this to be true having woken many a morning in the past and skipped this important meal. However over the last number of years, I've slowly come around to the idea that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and have made the daily effort to make something every morning.

Prior to my clean eating regime, Monday to Friday, breakfast would normally consist of tea and wholemeal toast. Dripping with butter and sometimes jam too, this quick fix covered me until 11am when another snack and cup of tea was needed to fuel me to lunchtime. Weekend breakfast saw me put in a tad more effort and often you might find me frying up a few eggs, perhaps even a sausage or two. I took great pride in my weekend breakfasts, viewing it as a treat to kick start my two days off.

Breakfast in the last six months has been shaken up quite a bit and the energy difference I've noticed, I've had to share with you. I've moved away from the greasy toast and tea pick me up and worked hard to consume more slow energy release foods. Foods which not only contribute to a longer feeling of fullness but contribute to my overall well-being also. Today, breakfast looks more like the following:

- A berry packed smoothie (recipe of which you can find here).
- Eggs fried in coconut oil, placed on a bed of spinach and a slice of butter free wholemeal toast.
- A thick bowl of porridge made with almond milk and topped with goji berries.
- Dry scrambled eggs with a side of bacon. (No milk is used when scrambling the eggs)
- A bowl of chopped fruit with a few drizzles of natural yoghurt.
- Two ingredient pancakes, topped with raw honey and strawberries. 


As I'm planning my meals more and more, each evening I find myself thinking "What will I eat tomorrow" and getting excited about what I'm going to cook and eat. I have found great satisfaction in preparing all of my meals from scratch and knowing what ingredients it took to make each meal. No added sugars, no preservatives, no ingredients that I cannot pronounce. Eating clean ensures that my meals are wholesome.

As mentioned before, eating clean has contributed to weight loss, brighter skin and stronger nails but it's also contributed to a more positive mood. A feeling of optimism combined with a more positive attitude fills my days which in turns gives me the energy to get up in the morning. Slowly but surely I'm moving from a grumpy morning person to a 'get up and seize the day' person. More of that please!

18 July, 2014

Stocking up the Larder - Whole Food Haul

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm nearly 14 days into my recent clean eating-athon and there's no sign of me slowing down just yet. It must be the sunny weather and bright mornings which are helping me in having more of a pep to my step, a cheery disposition and the sheer willpower and commitment that is required when you opt to eat clean, consume only whole foods and vote to make all of your meals from scratch. I am freaking loving it! At the end of my first week, there was six pounds less of me. SIX whole pounds less of me!! I've never had results like that in my life. Just goes to show what you can achieve when you put your mind to something and get your junk off the couch.

I am consuming more fruits and veg then ever before easily surpassing the recommended daily amount of five per day. Easily. There are days when I've consumed close to 10, but when you are eating them with every meal, it's easy to do and now it feels normal. Its wonderful. I'm full of energy and the three o clock slump seems to be a thing of the past. I'm yawing less through out the day if not at all and my skin and nails are radiant and strong. In fact, I've never seen my nails in such good shape. Prior to this they had ridges, were weak and would break easily. Clean eating is the business and its been less than two weeks!

Clean eating also requires lots of preparation, research and a bit of moo-lah to start off with. There are many out there who will attest that living this lifestyle can be expensive and yes, some investment in some items is required. Coconut oil for example  (used instead of olive oil in cooking) can be pricey at up to £20 for a (rather large) jar, but if you shop around you might find a two for one deal like I did in Holland and Barrett . However, it lasts months and months so you ultimately you get alot of bang for your buck.

Back in January I did my first whole foods shop and now nearly seven months later I'm running low or completely out of some basic items, so a trip to the awesome 8th Day Veg on Oxford Road was a must earlier this week. Maybe it's a sign of old age, but whole foods and health shops really excite me these days. I love popping in to the likes of 8th Day Veg or Holland and Barrett and having a snoop, plus it's really difficult to just buy one item. My recent whole foods haul was of course, no different. I definitely spent less than my first initial shop, but tried (really tried) to limit myself to just buying the items I needed and not just lusted after!

This time round I spent about £22 and bought the following:
- Red Split Lentils - Used in soups and healthy curries, this mega bag will last me months!
- Wholewheat Pasta - Again, another mega bag for some pasta dishes and salads.
- Almond Milk - My smoothie staple, used instead of dairy and delish with porrige too!
- Milled Chia Seeds - Something I've been wanting to get my mits on for ages - added to smoothies
- Almond Butter - Mmmm, I love this stuff! Perfect with apple slices or on a ricecake
- Organic Jam - Contains zero preservatives. Zero!
- Organic Tomato Puree - To make those pasta dishes even more clean
- Organic Thai Curry Paste - More clean eating = more cooking = more experimenting in the kitchen
- Organic Herbs - Rosemary and Paprika. I used the Rosemary last night and it was the most fragrant I have ever smelled and tasted. The difference compared to regular / non-organic Rosemary blue my fragile clean mind!

£22 is quite alot to spend on such a small amount of products, but these items are to build my larder of clean ingredients. They are key in the foundation of many meals and so, go the distance and for me, are worth the investment. I'm hoping to share some of the clean snacks and meals I've been creating.

Do let me know in the comments if this would be something you would be interested in.


16 July, 2014

Paperchase Wishlist - Buy all the things!

Stationary. Lets talk about stationary. Unlike most school children, my favourite time of year was that busy week or two before the start of the school year when you were dragged with your mother to the school book shop to queue up and buy your new school books. (Yup, we queued, the internet did not exist then my friends.) The heavy purchase of new school books, brought new copy books too. 

I literally got excited by 88 and 120 page copy books and swore blind that I would only use them for my 'nice writing'. I would flick through the school books taking in their new book smell and wonder for while about how my new copy books would be filled. What work would take place in these new copies, what lessons would I learn and what homework would I do?

Of course none of these empty copy books, with their academic possibilities could reach their potential unless I was fully equipped with a bulging pencil case overflowing with pens in every colour, erasers in every shape and size and because I had a love of art, I had allllll the pencils. 2B, 5B, 6B, I had them all. Sharpened to precision and well taken care of. Those pencils were like close friends, seen in my company often, with protective maternal feelings often expressed about them.

My love for stationary continues to this very day. While my school days are well behind me, my career days are here, alive and well, and there is probably at least another 30 years before my retirement days arrive. My need for stationary is just as important to me now as it was then and it will come as no surprise that I have a big fat girl crush on Paperchase. A big fat girl crush that means I receive their email newsletter, pooch through their sale stock and take stationary loving visitors to Manchester to visit their anchor store. There is no doubt. I love Paperchase. We're in a relationship and we're fully committed.

As my professional roles have always contained an administrative and managerial element, I find I'm always in list making mode. Lists to ensure tasks are complete, lists to ensure the customer is happy, lists to ensure I and the team are meeting deadlines. Given my creative background, using cute (but practical!) stationary that gives a sneek peek into my personality ensures that I'm never fully in 'power suit mode' and assists in me enjoying the creation of what sometimes feel like endless lists upon lists upon lists.

At the moment, I'm lusting over the following and with payday on the horizon, a trip through the busy streets of Manchester to my beloved Paperchase just might on the cards! We need a date, it's been a while and I'd hate for our relationship to get a bit rusty!

All of the above items can be purchased via the Paperchase website.

10 July, 2014

Blogging + Blogging Nastyness is not a sum I like!

If you're a blogger, ask yourself, why do you blog? If you're a blog reader, ask yourself, why do you read blogs? Hopefully your answer is centred somewhere around sharing what you do or make, it's a hobby, you like to connect with others and read and learn interesting content or maybe you're a tad nosey like me and you love, just love a sneek peek into other peoples lives.

I started blogging in 2009. I was making pretty handmade cards and invitations and saw blogging as the perfect platform to share what I was making and a way to connect with others who made the same. It was also a way to create and promote my oh so little cute brand Lucky Rainbow Designs. I wasn't perfect at it, my early posts are embarrassingly dreadful but I persisted none the less and threw myself a mini party whenever I received a new follower or a lovely comment. The blogging community as it appeared to me was welcoming, it was a section of the internet where like minded people came together and share personal stories, advice and all sorts of pretty things. I was hooked.

Like other bloggers, I drifted in and out of the blogging world. I showed various levels of commitment but soon I realised that I didn't want to limit myself to just writing about crafts. I had an opinion on all manner of things and wanted to share those opinions, maybe even, find someone who shared that opinion too. With the move to Manchester, I used blogging as a way to meet people, as a way to find people who had something in common with me. As mentioned numerous times it proved to be a winning formula. Lovely bloggers + lovely new blogs + discovering lovely new spaces and places because of them. The maths was adding up. No long division involved.

So you can imagine my disappointment when in the last few days I discovered via the all knowing Twitter that there was a forum called Guru Gossip where bloggers and non-bloggers could write comments anonymously about their adored bloggers and also their abhorred bloggers. I'm not trying to use fancy terms here, these forums 'Adorred Bloggers' and 'Abhorred Bloggers' actually exist. It all blew up on Twitter when it was revealed that two of those making nasty comments have recently been listed for a Cosmo blogger award and so all sorts of comments and opinions started to appear with one of the named bloggers openly apologising for any hurt caused and the other choosing to believe they hadn't done anything wrong.

Scrolling through the 'Abhorred Bloggers' list, I saw blog after blog (and some of my fav's too!) torn apart with some commenter's going so far as to comment on the looks and weight of the blogger. I kid you not. You probably wouldn't find this level of dog sh*t in the playground. Over and over again I asked myself "If you don't like the blog or the content, then why continue to read it?" - and yet, they do, they continue to slate posts, photographs, reviews and even vlogs that are created too. They describe the authors as 'fake', 'wooden', 'trying too hard' and 'loving themselves', criticising their writing skills and ability and even taking to describing one vlogger has having 'strange facial tension'. WTF is strange facial tension when it's at home??

There are posts and forums where members are obsessed with the lives of the big players like Essie Button and Zoella. Jesus f**king Christ, reading it was like watching an episode of Coronation Street on speed while been spun around one of those NASA G-force simulators. It was all consuming. It is their life, to dissect every single reference made on their blog / vlogs - to try and find hidden meanings and whether vloggers who appear to be great friends have actually, in real life, fallen out. See, Coronation Street + speed + NASA.

The site itself encourages you to 'get your gossip on' and informs you 'If you don't like what's here, DON'T COME HERE!". I won't say it promotes gossip, it doesn't. It promotes bitchy-ness, it gives a platform for jealousy, to nit pick and tear people down. In short, it promotes internet bullying and doesn't for one second take into consideration that a real person is behind the screen, behind the blog, behind the words they're sharing. Granted not every blog / vlog will be up you're street, but don't be a complete knob head and resort to hiding behind a screen to vehemently share your opinions with other knob heads. Move on folks, the green eyed monster (cas that's what really is happening here) isn't pretty and lets remind ourselves of some wise words, "Down with that sorta thing!". (Good man Fr.Ted, tell it like it is!)

Image Source

09 July, 2014

Buy All The Things! - Blogger Product Reviews and Associated Pressure.

I don't know about you but I'm not particularly flushed with cash. I mean, I have a full time job which mostly pays the bills and often there's a bit left over for nice things, but I'm by no means swimming in the green stuff. 

I wouldn't mind swimming in the green stuff, but my lottery numbers haven't come up.......yet. So until they do, I'm careful with those sterling pennies, thinking long and hard about what to buy and what I actually need.

Bearing all that in mind, I wonder about some bloggers. I wonder about those who publish review after review, often of expensive beauty items (I'm looking at you Nars!) and wonder how on earth they are affording it all. I understand many are sent samples and are on the hot list with PR companies. But, often I see not so famous bloggers, like myself, clearly purchasing a whole plethora of products from their own funds and many of them students too. (Is there some get rich quick scheme I don't know about folks?)

I feel like there is a pressure out there for bloggers to get their reviewing mits on the next best serum, the must have eye palette or the scrub you just can't live without. A pressure to get all of the above in order to be that blogger who stands out above the rest, who becomes that blogger who recommended that wrinkle removing magic potion that really works. To be  the 'go to blogger', the one clearly in the know.

But at what expense? For a few extra followers? For a couple of retweets? Or something bigger? Are there bloggers out there feeling short at the end of the month as they think their readers are expecting reviews of top products. Are you a blogger feeling the pinch, spending your hard earned moo-la on products rather than paying the bills? Or a you a blogger worrying that you don't review enough fancy products? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

On a personal note, I've completed the odd beauty product review but my own approach is to purchase and review items that I genuinely want to try, can afford and also.....need! I've an inkling there are blogger bathrooms and bedrooms heaving with products just for the sake of it, hence the popularity of blog sales and shops like Depop!

Do share your thoughts below.

08 July, 2014

Manchester Colour Run 2014 and 'Saying Yes!'

The happiest 5k on the planet, that's how they describe it. A couple of months back I heard via work colleagues that the colour run was coming to Manchester for the second year. It had been on my list of things to do for a while now and with great excitement I signed up. People throwing powder over you so you look like a rainbow, sign me up people!

After the Great Manchester 10K run in May I literally stopped running. On that particular day I ran in very humid heat and despite constantly drinking water and picking more up along the route, I felt very ill about 20 minutes after the event. In short I was dehydrated and needed to be put to bed. It put me off running for a bit if I'm honest. However, even though I physically was not prepared to run an awesome 5K, I wasn't going to let it stop me. The colour run isn't timed and turns out isn't the most competitive of runs either. It's a cheery event, a bit of fun, an alternative way to spend your Saturday if you wish.

In the run up to the event, scrolling through Instagram I noticed that Dannii from Hungry Healthy Happy instagrammed a pic of her race number. With that, I commented saying that I was taking part also. Despite Dannii's huge following (she's kind of a big deal in the inter-web folks!), she commented back asking would I be interested in meeting up. I of course, dropped her an email jokingly warning her of my lack of fitness and with that we agreed to run together.

10,000 people flooded the entrance to the Ethiad Stadium and somehow, despite a sea of white tea shirts, colourful tutus, rainbow socks and all manner of crazy head gear, we found each other. I was relived as I was slightly worried we wouldn't find each other and I would let her down by having to run alone. My worries needed have bothered me. 

We found a spot in the queue of runners / walkers lining up and about 20 minutes later we were off, waving and shouting to passers by and exchanging high fives with random colour runners. Dannii, being the pro blogger brought a camera along the route. Not phased by colourful chalk getting into every nook and crevice of her camera she took photos at every opportunity and kindly some of me too! We had a great chat getting to know each other along the route, getting pelted by pink, blue, yellow and orange chalks and even taking to rolling in it. Yes, rolling in it! Rolling in a carpet of yellow, rolling with other colour runners, rolling in it so I resembled something like a yellow wand!

Within no time the run was over and Dannii and I crossed the finish line in spectacular fashion with her lovely husband taking a photo of the two of us. Despite not recording an Olympic breaking time, it didn't matter. What mattered to me was getting off my back side and running again, saying yes and accepting an invitation from someone I hadn't personally met and having fun, engaging in a new event and feeling happy. If anything, the colour run gave me the kick up the backside to get moving again, to get out there and meet people and not assume it will all happen by sitting on the couch. 

I'm nearly 10 months living in Manchester and what surprises me over and over again is the fantastic welcoming and friendly community that is the blogging scene. Since writing this post in November, I've quickly realised that you have to be willing to put the work in too. New experiences and friendships won't just arrive on your doorstep, you've got to reach out, respond to invites, even chance your arm a little asking "Can I come along too?"

As a result, I've met, tweeted, emailed, chatted to, received advice and now ran with a whole heap of Manchester / north west based bloggers and all because I've said yes. I've attended events alone, put myself out there and stepped outside my comfort zone to the point were it now feels normal. Thanks Manchester bloggers, you're all fan-tabulous and a big thank you to Dannii for documenting our day of running, walking and colour!

04 July, 2014

Fashion Sense? What Fashion Sense? - My New Style Crush - Catherine from 'Not Dressed As Lamb'

Somehow, some-bloody-how despite the fact that I've gained body confidence in my early 30's, or as I like to call it "I actually don't give a sh*t what you think" confidence, I'm really lost when it comes to dressing this ole curvy skin of mine. I mean, really lost. Lost in a dense Amazonian forest, with no map, compass or sat nav lost.

If you open my wardrobe of shame, you'll find a few pairs of jeans, some spotty Primark tops and shirts, a few jumpers, cute flats and a sparkly dress or two for special occasions. It's very much 'plain Jane' and as my boyfriend 'kindly' pointed out to me the other day, I always wear the same thing. That's man code for 'you have no style'. Thanks man code, thannnnks.

Part of this is down to the fact that I'm trying to change my weight and body shape and so my thought process goes as follows "Ah sure there's no point buying clothes when they won't fit ya in 2 months time!" and so I choose to spend my money on experiences and beauty products and very little on clothing. It's also because I'm not sure what to wear. Over the last few years I have ventured away from River Island and Topshop and moved more towards H and M and Next. I still purchase accessories in River Island and Topshop, but crop tops, bowler hats and dungarees, I'm good thanks!

For all of the above reasons, you'll notice I've never shared an outfit post on this blog as I simply don't see myself as fashionable or stylish and I can tell you, its far from fashion blogging I was reared! However, with all of this in mind, I'm not afraid of colour or experimenting, I just think that most of the time, the majority of clothing doesn't suit me or perhaps I'm at an age where I can't wear or get away with it any more.

Enter the inspirational and newly discovered (to me) blog Not Dressed As Lamb. This beautiful blog came as a bolt of lightening to me last week. Catherine Summers is a British 40 something blogger with impeccable style and not to mention, amazing hair colour. (I want her hair!) Flicking through her posts and beautiful photographs, I came to the realisation that 32 is not old, 32 is not a reason to stop dressing up and with a little research and investment in quality clothing, I could get a sense of style. I could dress myself in the mornings, feel comfortable, stylish and certainly not a frump! As women, we so easily knock ourselves down, assuming that with age we can do and be less. Not the case ladies, not the case at all.

Catherine is clearly testament to this. I am seriously fan-girling her style. Her confidence to mix up pieces and use lots and lots of colour. I think her use of bright colours is what attracts me the most. As an art graduate I somehow feel compelled to dress bright, as if its my duty. I'm just not the best as putting colour pieces together or even discovering and choosing them in the first instance.

In order to achieve my goal of ultimate fashion fabulousness, I'm going to start with my wardrobe of fashion shame. I'll count what I have and make a list of investment pieces needed to improve current items and a list of pieces that will contribute in me becoming my best self. I don't want to dress or look like something I'm not, I just want to be my best self. To feel good, to feel confident and perhaps, shine a little brighter. So ladies, let clear out our closets. Clear out the ill fitting items, the items you haven't worn in months or years, and the items with the tags still on them and instead invest our money in more high quality pieces. Pieces that will last the test of time, more than a couple of spins in the washing machine and ultimately make us feel like the confident amazing women we are! Here's to being 'Not Dressed As Lamb!'.

Blog: Not Dressed As Lamb
Twitter: @notlamb
Pinterest: Not Dressed As Lamb

03 July, 2014

Clean Eating with a little help from Instagram

Over the last number of months I've dabbled in the clean eating lifestyle and pretty much jumped on and off the Paleo diet bandwagon. For those of you unfamiliar with eating clean or the Paleo diet, I'll explain further. The diet is said to be derived from our ancestors and those undertaking the diet are required to only eat whole foods. Foods which have been taken from the ground such as vegetables or those which walk, swim or fly. Think beef, fish and duck. Essentially, the food our ancestors would have hunted. (Mind you, I have seen a pretty good Ted Talk that states our cavemen ancestors didn't have access to alot of the foods that the Paleo diet lists!)

Paleo requires that you eliminate processed food completely. If it comes in a packet, it's not a whole or clean food. It also asks that you eliminate diary, so no cheese, yoghurt or milk and suggests removing grains and beans, so goodbye lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans. In their place, almond milk, coconut flour and lots and lots of eggs as well as fresh fruit, wholesome vegetables and where possible grass fed and organic meats. I have found that when I focus on a Paleo lifestyle the benefits are fantastic. Within a week I feel less bloated, my stomach is flatter, clothes fit better and the muffin top reduces. Combined with exercise and I'm on to a winner. 

Keeping on top of a Paleo diet, welllllll like all things it requires a big dollop of cream free motivation and willpower and I'm a big fan of all the tools a gal can get her hands on in order to keep that motivation going strong. Enter Instagram, my favourite photography app. A wash with fitness (or #fitspo) posts and inspiration, a quick search and you can find all the six packs and cellulite free thigh muscles you ever wanted. While interesting to look at (the men are anyways!), for me I'm more of a fan of all the fab Paleo meals that other Paleo lovers share. Sometimes when I feel my diet is a little limited, exciting ways to create meals can really lift me and I love finding the next best delicious smoothie to try out for breakfast.

With that, sometime back I created my own Instagram healthy eating account (HealthyRainbow) in which I share the Paleo meals I've created. It's a simple tool which I enjoying doing and for some crazy reason makes me want to eat better. When I see all the lovely clean meals I've made, it makes me step away from the processed stuff a little more and when I find another meal to find out, I'm straight to the kitchen whipping out the coconut oil and almond flour. It might inspire you a little and perhaps we can motivate each other to look after selves that little bit more.

Share your Instagram account below - I've love to follow you!

01 July, 2014

Festival Blogger Challenge with BooHoo.com

Glastonbury has just ended and hoards of festival goers are making their way from Somerset after what was, no doubt, an epic weekend for them. Unsuccessful in my attempts to secure a ticket this year, I decided I would live vicariously through boohoo when they offered me the opportunity to take part in a fun Festival Blogger Challenge.

Scouring through their lovely website, I've selected a few favourite pieces, that might, just might honor me with the title of looking festival chic! Knowing that there are still a whole heap of festivals going on around the UK this summer, I'm tempted to whip out the credit card and purchase a ticket or two. With that in mind, I think my perfect festival experience might look like something below;

I would share a tent with: Paloma Faith - I just love her, plus she went to Art School too, that makes us best friends, right?

My headliners would be: Daft Punk, Muse, Coldplay, Chemical Brothers and of course, my girl Paloma. (A bit of a mixed bag, I know!)

Oodles and and oodles of ham sandwiches would be free for all attending. 'Cas nothing like a good ham sambo gets the energy levels up and running again.

The item I would not go without would be: a torch for practical reasons and a big rainbow flag for 'making my tent look cute' reasons.

Wellies or Wedges?: Wellies without a doubt, this is the British summer we're talking about.

Beach or Field?: A field, no one likes sand in all of their cute festival clothes!

The theme would be: Music Mayhem with a sprinkle of sporadic rainbows (inbetween those rain showers) for good measure.

Celeb spot of the weekend would be: Chris Martin and Gwennie getting back to together for some conscious re-coupling

This is what I would wear: Eek, choosing what to wear is so difficult when boohoo.com have an array of fantastic and affordable clothing to chose from. At the moment, I'm lusting after a kimono. Granted there has been rain this summer, there's also been some sunshine too, so a festival somewhere is going to get graced with sunny weather at some stage, surely!!. 

A pretty kimono is perfect and airy for those days. The difficulty is that boohoo offer so many fabulous types of kimonos that I've managed to narrow it down to theses pretty three. Roll on payday, I really want these! They're also a bargain and kind to the purse.

To wear underneath, I selected a coral top with a pretty lace embellishment along the bottom and seeing as I'm not a shorts gal, I won't jump to the 'go to festival uniform' of jean shorts and instead, selected some rather cool, dark skinny jeans. Easy to wear, easy to keep clean and you'll easily get a few days wear out of them at a festival! (How practical am I!!)

Finally, I've topped off my outfit with a lovely bulky watch (gotta make sure you see you're favourite bands on time!) and of course a pair of shiny wellies. Bright and colourful, I really love the bottle green colour of these and they're currently a steal at £8. Not to forget, a fringed hold it all to carry your essentials, think baby wipes and the likes! Now, to drop all these items into my shopping basket.

With thanks to boohoo.com for inviting me to taking part Festival Blogger Challenge

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